Professors Nayar and Vunjak-Novakovic Elected to the National Academy of Inventors

Dec 17 2014 | By Holly Evarts | Photo: Eileen Barroso

Shree Nayar, T.C. Chang Professor of Computer Science, and Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, The Mikati Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering and a professor of medical sciences (in Medicine), have been elected fellows of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) for demonstrating “a highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.” They are among 170 new fellows who will be inducted during the NAI’s 4th Annual Conference on March 20, 2015, at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA.

Professor Shree K. Nayar.

“It is wonderful to be an academic and be recognized as an inventor,” Nayar says. “I am honored to be a part of such a remarkable group of innovators.”

Nayar, who directs the Computer Vision Laboratory, has published over 200 scientific articles and has been awarded more than 40 patents for his inventions related to digital imaging, computer vision, human-computer interfaces, and robotics. Today, his research results are widely used in cameras for smart phones, industrial vision systems for factory automation, and rendering engines for computer graphics. He is the recipient of the prestigious David Marr Prize in 1990 and 1995, the David and Lucile Packard Fellowship in 1992, the National Young Investigator Award in 1993, and the NTT Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award in 1994. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2008 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011 for his pioneering work on computational imaging and his seminal contributions to physics-based computer vision. In 2006, he received the Columbia Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia Graduates.

Professor Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic.

Of the honor, Vunjak-Novakovic says, ”This really means a lot to me. All our work in the lab is done with eventual applications in mind, and we are actively commercializing some of our technologies. I am happy about being recognized as an inventor, and to be in such good company.”

Vunjak-Novakovic directs the Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, which is focused on engineering human tissues for regenerative medicine, stem cell research, and modeling of disease. Extensively published and highly cited, she has over 70 licensed, issued, and pending patents, has founded two biotech companies, and is a frequent advisor to government and industry. Among her many recognitions, Vunjak-Novakovic is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, a member of the New York Academy of Science, Academia Europaea, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame. In 2012, she was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, becoming the first female professor at Columbia University to ever receive this distinction, and, in 2014, elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

With the 2014 class, there are now 414 NAI fellows, representing more than 150 prestigious research universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutions. Included among all of the NAI fellows are 61 presidents and senior leadership of research universities and nonprofit research institutes, 208 members of the other National Academies (NAS, NAE, IOM), 21 inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, 16 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation, 10 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Science, 21 Nobel laureates, 11 Lemelson-MIT prize recipients, 107 AAAS fellows, and 62 IEEE fellows, among other awards and distinctions. The full list of NAI fellows can be found here.